Cloud of Witnesses

St. Agnes of Rome

St. Agnes of Rome. Virgin and Martyr. She was born into a noble Roman family of Christians. After refusing a marriage proposal of the governor for his son, Agnes was denounced for being Christian and was tortured.

Christ made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to Him whom the angels serve.

The governor then had Agnes put in a public house of prostitution with her clothes removed. As she prayed, her hair grew longer til it covered her nakedness. No one dared to touch her. One young man, consumed with lust, approached her and was struck blind. After this she was beheaded. The 12-13 year old was martyred for Christ during the reign of the persecutor Diocletian.

St. Agnes pray for us! In our sick society the #1 addiction is to pornography. St. Agnes pray for a renewal of purity—that the deadly grip of selfishness and lust is loosed from the throat of our poor world. Lord Jesus have mercy.

Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve.

There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord int he midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs.

In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck.

You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned. His right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl’s peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and religion; Agnes preserved her virginity and gained a martyr’s crown.

from an essay On Virgins by Saint Ambrose of Milan

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